Journalism Site Checks In with LAT’s ‘Robot Reporters’

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By Richard Horgan Comment

Sarah Marshall shares a couple of fascinating new examples at journalism.co.uk of the algorithm-assisted reporting being perfected at the LA Times under the watchful eye of database producer Ben Welsh (pictured).

The first is an early-morning Ken Schwencke-bylined item on February 1 about a 5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit SoCal. Even though the reporter was still in bed, he was first to the news:

“Ken wrote the algorithm that sits on top of earthquake notifications,” Welsh explained. “The structured data comes in and Ken has an algorithm that says if the earthquake is close to California and over a certain magnitude it is ‘news’.”

“That automatically writes a blog post that looks like it was written by a human – well it was written by a human, by Ken – and it instantly creates a map, blog post, headline, and automatically posts it into our blogging platform.”

The other main LAT example outlined by Marshall is a February 5 news item sourced from the LAPD’s daily homicide info .CSV file; the article lede was auto-generated, with a reporter adding additional info. Read Marshall’s report here.

[Photo courtesy: palewire.re]

Previously on FishbowlLA:
LAT Database Producer Discusses His LAPD Experiment